[MUSIC: Album Review] Bearhug – Bill, Dance, Shiner
Bill, Dance, Shiner
The title of Bearhug’s debut reads like a morning-after’s disjointed recollection of the night before. It’s a hazy reflection of the music itself, which manages to balance youthful abandon with a measure of world-weary sobriety. There’s romance and nostalgia here, but it’s the kind that knows good things don’t last. Because of this – or perhaps despite it – the record feels strangely timeless. There are obvious influences, especially of the jangly ‘90s guitar-band variety, but it’s more tangibly human than generic pastiche, with a beating heart that doesn’t just pound the pavement for kicks alongside peers like, say, Yuck.
Opening track ‘Over The Hill’ is a scuzzy romantic caper, and a standout example of the well-harnessed energy Bearhug have shown they’re capable of on this album. A few tracks in, things get a little more laidback, but only in thematical terms. ‘Cinema West’ is a breezy slacker ballad dressed in blue jeans (I just wanna sleep alone/I just wanna shoot my gun/I just wanna live in my hometown); while the gentle slide guitars and fragile falsetto in ‘Cherry Red’ are located in heartbreaker country.
On all the tracks, there’s an organic – even symbiotic – relationship going on between instruments and vocals, that’s more irresistible with each listen. Often the guitars seem to be having their own call-and-response conversation that beckons you to join. Catchy pop motifs, pretty licks and flourishes and windy feedback scattered throughout the record are at least as engaging and evocative as the vocals – and offer an optimistic, sunny counterpoint to lyrics that lean toward the melancholy.
Honest, smart, well-written indie pop. Maybe not a brand-new thing, but it’s refreshing enough to grab your attention, and worthy of keeping it.